Dev Winsor getting run way fit with 1:1 private Pilates sessions.

Dev Winsor getting run way fit with 1:1 private Pilates sessions.

In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 you’ll see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a new body
— Joseph Pilates

Pilates is a method of exercise focused primarily on control & precision. Getting the most from each exercise requires correct alignment & technique. Even being slightly off centre, or working through one side of the body more than the other, makes a massive difference to the feel & benefit of the exercise. Clients might say: Where should I be feeling this? Not knowing where to feel the challenge in Pilates is often the result of not being in the ideal position or alignment, or of not fully understanding the exercise or the basic fundamental principles of Pilates such as properly activating the core/power house. Generally speaking, when the body is functioning optimally in a balanced, aligned way, it becomes much clearer where you should be feeling the exercises & even more so as the body becomes stronger. This is why having regular 1:1 or 2:1 sessions under the watchful eye of certified, experienced instructor can make all the difference. During a private lesson, your instructor should always be completely focused on the alignment of your body, coaching, cuing &  adjusting your position, so that you are getting the most benefit out of each movement. I believe even highly experienced students or instructors still benefit from this personal approach. Having someone experienced look at your alignment & technique regularly helps to make sure you don’t pick up undesirable habits, sometimes being crooked starts to feel totally normal! 

Now don’t get me wrong, I think group classes are great as they are a fun, cost effective way to get the body moving & often provide a really good workout.  However, when an instructor is managing a varied group with lots of different abilities, there is less time available to explain each exercise to everyone, & it can very difficult to give individualised attention. This has the potential to become a problem long term if clients are doing Pilates for years without really improving or are not understanding the detailed techniques specific to their own body. A mixture of private lessons & group classes can be a great combination, allowing you to take the knowledge & information gained in your private sessions, with you into your group classes. I recommend doing at least 5 - 10 private Pilates lessons, either 1:1 or 2:1, before doing any kind of large group class if possible. This ensures you will be building on a solid foundation, & gives you a clearer understanding of the Pilates principles, along with an awareness of what your body needs in order to be aligned & balanced. This is especially important if you have injuries, are pregnant or post natal.

If you have been doing large group Pilates classes for a while, it can also be good to look at supplementing a class with a private Pilates session every 2 - 8 weeks. Often I find clients who do 1 - 3 private sessions a week, over 4+ group classes, can get more effective results due to the personalised attention & precise focus on technique. Sometimes quality over quantity is beneficial, especially if you are new to Pilates. Investing in private sessions is an investment worth making if you want to get more out of your workouts long term. When you really understand the goal of each exercise, & have the ability to work your body optimally, you will have the power to transform those ‘basic’ Pilates exercises into something a lot deeper, more challenging, & ultimately transformational for the mind & body!


Contemporary Pilates also called Modern Pilates or Clinical Pilates, is strongly influenced by modern movement & physiotherapy rehabilitation techniques. There is a large focus on understanding anatomy & the scientific reasoning behind movement & exercise. Most of the original Pilates exercises are still used or modified to further assist the client. Often there are a lot of 'pre pilates', physiotherapy or fitness inspired exercises added into workouts.

There's no set order to follow in each workout, however classes & private sessions are sequenced so the body is challenged in all of the different movement planes such as supine (on the back), quadruped (all fours), prone (on the front), side lying (on the side) , seated (sitting upright) & generally always standing, to finish a class. The original Pilates principles are still followed such as centering, concentration, control, precision, breath & flow. 

The Pilates equipment is generally very modern & the spring tensions are much lighter. Contemporary Pilates often uses additional props such as foam rollers, thera bands & exercise balls to assist or challenge an exercise. The equipment used is usually the: reformer, mat, cadillac, wunda chair, ladder barrel, tower, spine corrector, magic circle & hand weights.  

Some of the leading internationally recognised schools of contemporary Pilates such as Polestar Pilates & BASI require Instructors to do comprehensive training of up to 600+ hours which includes observation, self mastery & teaching. Exams are usually both theory based & practical & are always examined by an experienced teacher trainer. Other contemporary training programs might be shorter & less intensive & don't always provide an exam.

Classical Pilates also referred to as Authentic Pilates, or Pure Pilates follows the Pilates system exactly the way it was taught by Joseph in the 1920s. It always follows a precise set of exercises in an order that must always be followed. This system has been passed down by the Pilates elders who trained with Joseph Pilates. Exercises do get modified slightly if a client is unable to perform them fully but the general flow & sequence must always be followed.

The classical equipment specifically designed for the full repertoire of Pilates exercises often has heavier springs & there are additional pieces of equipment such as: the guillotine, foot corrector, baby chair, high chair & pedo pull. Often the workout starts on the reformer, then the mat & is usually finished with appropriate extra exercises on some of the other pieces of equipment such as: the cadillac, wunda chair, high chair, ladder barrel, baby chair & the tower.

The Classical system usually follows a basic level, Intermediate level, advanced level & then super advanced sequence. There is a focus on the transitions between exercises particularly on the reformer & mat which creates extra challenge, control, & flow between each movement.

One of the most recognised Classical training programs is with Romana's Pilates. Romana Kryzanowska was a student of Joseph, she was chosen to continue his legacy. Apprentices are required to undergo intensive training for at least a year where they must complete over 60+ hours a month of apprentice hours. They are closely guided & mentored by experienced instructors & examined by a Level 1 master trainer. Exams are both written & practical. There are specific guideline requirements before being accepted on to this prestigious program. 


Image of Whitney Tingle on the Classical Gratz Pilates Cadillac in Le Petit Studio in NYC

Image of Whitney Tingle on the Classical Gratz Pilates Cadillac in Le Petit Studio in NYC

Image of Kirsten King using the contemporary Balanced Body reformer at Laportex Sydney

Image of Kirsten King using the contemporary Balanced Body reformer at Laportex Sydney